It occured to me today, that I have developed quite a penchant for science fiction novels. When I was younger, I used to read lots of fantasy instead. The reason that I used to detest science fiction is because I have never gotten the correct exposure to it, until I picked up Cryptonomicon at an MPH warehouse sale back home. That changed my entire perception about scifi.
The author of Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson, is an extremely good author of science fiction. I loved the way that he blended real world events in with fictional events, to advance an extremely believable plot along. That was my first ever exposure to, what I call, realistic science fiction.
When I tell people this, they tend to ask me what I mean by realistic science fiction as fiction, by definition, is not real. Well, believable science fiction would be fiction that is so grounded in reality, that you can believe that events actually transpired as described in the story.
Since then, I’ve read his other books, The Diamond Age and Snow Crash. I also have the Baroque Cycle sitting on my shelf. This is his first massive 8 book work and is a series of historical novels. I’ve not touched it yet as I know that once I do, I would not be able to put it down and it will suck up weeks of my life. I’m saving it for when I finish my PhD.
Sitting right next to this set is another important scifi set from William Gibson, his Sprawl trilogy. Right next to these two are a bunch of books from Alastair Reynolds. I am presently contemplating on getting some books from Ian Banks. I’m still looking for his books at the local cheap book store.
The only issue that I have with the bookstores is that they tend to shelve the science fiction and fantasy books together. I guess that, sometimes, it’s not easy to separate the two categories. But, there is a very simple rule of thumb. Science fiction involves the use of technology while fantasy involves the use of magic.
Sufficiently advanced technology is like magic, though.